Re: law enforcement for profit

From: Michael S. Lorrey (
Date: Wed May 10 2000 - 05:50:27 MDT

Zero Powers wrote:
> >From: Ruthanna R Gordon <>
> >
> >On Mon, 8 May 2000, Zero Powers wrote:
> >
> > >
> > > Morality is not the issue. Legality is. They are not synonyms.
> >
> >That appears (to me) to be exactly what I said. The lack of synonymity
> >*is* the issue.
> Not really. There is nothing requiring you to have the same morals as our
> legislators (or anybody else for that matter). However, you are required to
> obey the laws of the land. Ergo, your desire to be free to "commit a crime
> and get away with it" does not necessarily follow from the fact that your
> "ideas of morality are not identical to those of our current lawmakers." In
> other words your desire to be free to "commit a crime and get away with it"
> (assuming for the moment that this is in fact your desire) does not suggest
> anything about your morals, other than the fact that you want to be able to
> commit crime with impunity.

There are immoral laws, there are also unjust laws. Even legal precedent
recognises that disobeying unjust laws as a means of protest against
those laws cannot be held to the same criminal standard as willfull
disobedience. The only crimes, as I recall, that tend to be excepted
from this rule are violent crimes, drug crimes, and property crimes.
Victimless crimes in general (with the exception of drug crimes) tend to
either be spuriously and/or capriciously enforced, if at all. However
the idea of leaving such crimes on the books for the proponents of
ubiquitous surveillance to prosecute seems criminal in and of itself to

> >I presume, from your statements below, that you are not actually
> >suggesting I avoid my partner until such time as a few ridiculous laws are
> >taken off the books.
> My opinion regarding the illegality of sodomy has been thoroughly stated and
> I take it from your comment that you understand exactly where I'm coming
> from on that. In short the answer is: no, if I were gay I would not refrain
> from engaging in homosexual activity with a mutually consenting partner of
> my own gender simply because it may be illegal in the state where I live.
> Admittedly, that doesn't make it right, moral or legal. But it's just the
> way *I* would handle that situation.

Ah, but would you complain when the state starts prosecuting people with
suiveillance evidence for those crimes? I doubt it.

> >There is nothing to cause the government to differentiate the exceptions
> >(and they are different for everybody) from the 'norm.' There is no place
> >on the books where laws are marked as either having or lacking 'moral
> >authority.'
> Agreed. And if I choose to violate a law that *for me* lacks sufficient
> moral authority to compel my obedience, I would knowingly accept the risks
> attendant that illegal behavior, including arrest, prosecution, conviction
> and (possibly) incarceration. Sometimes going with your conscience carries
> a steep price, even when you are "right". I'm sure Nelson Mandela could
> tell you all about it.
> But, again, that IMO is not reason enough to deprive the state or the public
> of the means by which to detect criminal behavior.

Sorry, but this is complete bull. If the principle of the criminal
justice system is that we would prefer to let ten guilty men go in order
to prevent one innocent man from going to prison or being executed, then
we cannot allow any surveillance system to be used to more efficiently
prosecute people for violating unjust laws. If you feel differently then
I am sorry, but you are everything I've said about you.
> >When we have succeeded in repealing all the laws
> >which I consider immoral, ask me again about surveilance cameras.
> Well if we repeal all the laws *you* consider immoral, we would logically
> have to do the same for everybody. And before long, there would not remain
> a single law on the books. In that event, who needs surveillance since
> every act imaginable is perfectly legal? Including my coming to your house,
> raping and murdering you and your life partner. Is that the world you
> really want?

Sorry, but your reducto ad absurdum doesn't cut it. The only people who
would feel that initiating violent crimes are ok are mental defectives,
sociopaths/psychopaths. If we got rid of all laws except those against
crimes of violence and property crimes, then I think that 99.9 % of the
people would be in agreement over this, and that our society would not
be noticeably more crime ridden than it is today. It would probably be a
lot more peaceful.

> >No, that's not what I meant. However, looking above, I see that I was
> >semantically inaccurate. I didn't mean these conversations were actually
> >illegal, I meant that they could be, in the government's view, 'probable
> >cause for suspicion.'
> "Probable cause for suspicion" gives the police no legal right to do
> anything except continue to watch you. As long as your conduct remains this
> side of illegal, that is all they can *legally* do.
> >This can be awfully inconvenient even for a
> >law-abiding citizen--take as an example Steve Jackson Games, who got
> >raided by the FBI on suspicion of computer crime for putting out a
> >cyberpunk game. Just because an action is legal doesn't mean a recording
> >of it, especially out of context, can't get one into trouble.
> The recording of legal activity will (most times) not get you convicted, or
> even prosecuted. If I recall correctly Steve Jackson Games was eventually
> cleared and I believe he sued and was compensated somewhat for his trouble.
> I can't argue with you about the inconvenience that innocent citizens can
> sometimes be subject to. But the right to convenience was never promised to
> you.

Sorry, it is: search and seizure, as well as the protection against
uncompensated takings, and against quartering troops on your property.
Having a government camera on my private property is tantamount to
quartering a government agent on my property 24 hours a day.

> >I know what the law is. I know my rights under it. I also know of many
> >cases in which the government has bent the definitions of this law and
> >ignored these rights.
> >
> >I know what the cops can and cannot legally do to me. But I live in the
> >New York City area. I do have a certain security in not being a young
> >black male, but my awareness of actual police behavior makes my trust in
> >them less than absolute.
> No question. Cops aren't perfect. Legislators aren't perfect. Judges
> aren't perfect. Juries aren't perfect. These are problems. But, again, I
> don't think the solution lies in hindering the ability of law enforcement to
> do their jobs. Maybe that is the solution, but I don't see it.

Of course you don't. Being a good little pro-government apologist always
helps keep the blinders on tight. When government is the problem, making
it more able to persecute its citizens is NOT a solution.

> >Given
> >current technological capacity, no one can be called lazy merely for
> >having missed some bandwidth. You, for example, seem to have placed a
> >great deal of emphasis on keeping up with legal policy. This is to be
> >commended. However, one of the trade-offs seems to have been your missing
> >information concerning times when law-abiding people have managed to get
> >in trouble with the law, in spite of not actually having broken it.
> I have never denied that this is an unfortunate fact of life. As long as
> our law enforcement duties are carried out by imperfect humans it is a
> problem we will have to live with. However, again, I don't think the
> solution to the problem lies in tying the hands of those we have entrusted
> to carry out the laws.

There are already plenty of laws that tie the hands of our law
enforcement people. Miranda for instance, and all the rights within
Miranda. Jury nullification (which the ABA has been trying to wipe out
for nigh on a century or more).

> Please don't misunderstand me. I did not mean at all to imply that you were
> ignorant or cowering. To the extent my wording led you to believe otherwise
> I sincerely apologize (God knows I don't need another flame war on this
> issue). But if, in your opinion, the government cannot be entrusted with
> the responsibiliy to observe its citizens, then in effect, your position is
> that the government cannot be entrusted to enforce the law. Perhaps this is
> true. But if not the government, then who?

Ourselves. There are numerous court cases at the SCOTUS level that
recognise that nobody has the right to personally protection from
police, that the police don't have the authority to do so. Ubiquitous
surveillance fits under this umbrella, IMHO, and should not be allowed.
Its not surprising that the cities that are installing these cameras now
have the worst record for human and civil rights...

> I know as much as anybody else that our government is not perfect. I know
> that innocent people sometimes get arrested, even convicted, sometimes
> executed. I know that some cops are incompetent and even malicious. But,
> again, I don't see how forcing the police to wear blind folds constitutes a
> solution to any of those problems.

Thats what a lot of people said about miranda and a host of other
constitutional protections for the accused. Even the police beleive they
need miranda, so your argument has little merit.

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